Step 1

Starting Position:  Stand with your feet hip-width apart with arms by your sides. Stiffen your abdominal muscles (“brace”) to stabilize your spine, then depress and retract your scapulae (pull shoulders down and back) without arching your low back. Hold your chest up and out, tilt your head slightly up.

 

Step 2

With a slight bend in the knee, shift your weight over your heels and slowly begin bending forward at the hips, maintaining the abdominal bracing and flat back.  Place your hands on the table while keeping the arms straight with the elbows extended and position the arms so there is a straight line from the shoulders, through the elbows to the wrists.  

 

Step 3

With your hands on the table, keep your legs directly under your hips while leaning back into your hips, straightening the legs and drawing your torso closer to the ground while keeping a flat back.  Keep your chin tucked into your neck to stabilize your cervical spine and to keep your head from dropping towards the floor.

 

Step 4

Hold the stretch position for 15-30 seconds for a total of 2-4 repetitions. To increase the stretch of the latissimus dorsi (back) muscles, rotate your thumbs to point toward the ceiling.

 

Step 5

Exercise Variation:  To increase the stretch, supinate the palms (turn the palms up to face the ceiling) while leaning back into your hips.

 

Exhale as you lean back into your hips.  Be sure not to fully “lock” the knees while holding this position.

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